The 7 Last Plagues (Rev. 16)
Bible Passage:Read the prophecy in Revelation 16.
Theme:The culmination of the judgment of Babylon.
Overview:The fall of Babylon, which began in 1840, culminates in the 7 Last Plagues. All remaining earthly powers are overthrown as Jesus returns during the 7th Plague.
The plagues are judgmentsThe 7 Last Plagues are judgments (15:1, 16:1, 17:1, 18:8) that fulfill the judgment of Babylon. In chapters 15-16, the "seven last plagues" (Rev. 15:1) are described as "vials full of the wrath of God" (Rev. 15:7). Then, in chapter 17, one of the seven angels with the seven vials shows John the "judgment of the great whore" (Rev. 17:1), which occurs when the ten horns "shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire (Rev. 17:16). In chapter 18, this event of judgment and destruction is announced by the voice from heaven: "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her" (Rev. 18:8).
The plagues do not harm God's peopleGod's people are not harmed by the plagues (Ps. 91:10). The plagues are the judgment of Babylon, out of which God's people have left (Rev. 18:4). However, God's people live through the plagues. They must rely on God's power and protection as they are in the midst of the catastrophes.
The plagues do not last long"Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her" (Rev. 18:8).
The 7 Last Plagues are linked to the 7 TrumpetsThe consecutive falls of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome in prophecy, followed by the final everlasting realm of Christ and His saints, show that Rome is the final realm to fall before God's people receive their inheritance and dwell in the promised new earth. The 7 Trumpets detail this process of the fall and overthrow of the last earthly realm. Revelation also prophecies about the 7 Last Plagues, which occur during a short time between the close of probation and the return of Christ, and provide the final step that brings disaster on those opposed to God. The 7 Trumpets and the 7 Last Plagues are both part of the process of overthrowing those opposed to God in order to usher in Christ's everlasting realm. Christ has promised to share that realm with His people.
There is another place in the Bible where 7 trumpets are used to overthrow a city so that God's people can move into the promised land and receive their inheritance (Joshua 6). In the battle of Jericho, God told Joshua and the children of Israel exactly what to do in order to overthrow Jericho. For 6 days they marched around the city, once per day, and the priests blew the trumpets each time. Then on the seventh day, they marched around the city 7 times, and the priests blew the trumpets each round. On the seventh round, the people also shouted along with the trumpets, and the city's walls crumbled to the ground. The Israelites destroyed the city and all that was in it (except Rahab, her family and her goods), burned it and no one was allowed to rebuild the city.
Notice that there are 7 days of blowing the trumpet. On the 7th day, the blowing encompasses 7 separate blowings. In the same way, there are 7 periods of time of blowing the trumpet in Revelation (7 judgments). Then, during the 7th time period, there are 7 last plagues (7 judgments), at which time the cities of earth crumble.
The Plagues and the Trumpets are all judgments and are tied together. Notice in the chart below how they even use similar language. However, they differ in that the 7 Trumpets are partial (affecting a third part of the realm), but by the time the Plagues are done, the entire realm is subdued ("poured out without mixture" - Rev. 14:10 - released without mercy mixed in).
|7 Trumpets||Affects||7 Last Plagues||Affects|
|Trumpet #1||Earth||Plague #1||Earth - Sores|
|Trumpet #2||Sea||Plague #2||Sea - Death|
|Trumpet #3||Waters||Plague #3||Waters - Blood|
|Trumpet #4||Sun, Moon, Stars||Plague #4||Sun - Fire/heat|
|Trumpet #5||Bottomless Pit, Smoke||Plague #5||Seat of Beast (Rome) - Darkness|
|Trumpet #6||Euphrates||Plague #6||Euphrates (armies supporting Rome) - All nations gather|
|Trumpet #7||Heaven||Plague #7||Air - Earthquake, Hail, Nations crumble|
With the many similarities, one could reasonably assume that the 7 Trumpets and 7 Last Plagues are parallel prophecies that occur over the same period of time. However, further study of the 7 Plagues shows them to be future events while the 7 Trumpets cover the Christian era. Instead of their similarities proving that they are parallel prophecies, they simply show that the work of the 7 Trumpets culminate during the 7th time period in the 7 Last Plagues. The 7 Trumpets made the final overthrow of earthly powers during the 7 Last Plagues possible. The 7 Trumpets and the 7 Last Plagues are a joint operation. All are judgments and all can be called trumpet blasts.
The chiastic structure (abc - cba) of the book of Revelation supports this view, with the 7 Trumpets in the 1st half of the book (the historical half) and the 7 Last Plagues in the 2nd half (the eschatological half). The double list of related items that the chiasm forms, reveal that the Trumpets and Plagues are not only related to each other, but like the other related items in the structure, the Plagues conclude the Trumpet story.
In summary, the plagues are the culmination of the judgments initiated during the 7 Trumpets. Similar language is used in each Trumpet and corresponding Plague (e.g. Trumpet 2 and Plague 2 both affect the sea, etc.). The 7 Trumpets (also called plagues - Rev. 9:20) detail the process of the fall of Rome, the final earthly realm. The 7 Last Plagues, which occur during the 7th Trumpet for a short time between the close of probation and the return of Christ, are the final step in that fall (see table).
The 7 Last PlaguesThe descriptions of these plagues are similar to the plagues on Egypt that God used to deliver His people from the hand of the Egyptians. As such, the language used indicates they are literal afflictions experienced by those involved with spiritual Babylon.
"1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image."
"3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea."
"4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. 7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."
"8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory."
"10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds."
"12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."
In addition, the dry river provides a symbolic passageway for God's people to escape Babylon. The passage in Isaiah 11:10-16 is similar to the language of the 6th plague. It points forward to the end-time spreading of the gospel, which is the 3 angels' messages when God's people are called to come out of Babylon and gather with the remnant. Isaiah refers to a river that is dried up when the Lord strikes it and becomes a highway for the remnant to pass over the river dryshod, just like Israel went through the red sea to escape the Egyptians. The highway provides a way for God's people to escape from Babylon ("Assyria"). With Israel and the Egyptians, the same event of drying the Red Sea provided safe passage for God's people and destroyed the power of the enemy. So at the end, the 6th plague destroys the armies of Babylon and provides a safe passage for God's people to escape Babylon.
"13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
"17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great."
Continue to: The Final Realm